Loreta’s Civil War: The gold fever

Gold and silver fever swirl around Velazquez, and her husband is not immune. She marvels at the different schemes employed to swindle the desperate settlers who share her aspirations for a new and better life.

Throughout 2016 and 2017, Stillness of Heart shared edited excerpts from the extraordinary memoir of Loreta Janeta Velazquez, who chronicled her adventures throughout the Civil War — either as herself, as a Confederate spy, or in disguise as Confederate Lt. Harry T. Buford. She fought and led men in terrible battles, fell in love, bore and lost children, and traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe, ultimately fulfilling her childhood dream of a rich and adventurous life.

You can read the entire 1876 memoir online here. Learn more about Velazquez (and the incredible documentary film Maria Agui Carter made about her) here.

Read previous chapters of her incredible story here.

Part 67: Gold and silver fever swirl around Velazquez, and her husband is not immune. She marvels at the different schemes employed to swindle the desperate settlers who share her aspirations for a new and better life.

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Shortly after my marriage I made a flying trip to New Orleans, for the purpose of seeing my brother and some of my relatives. Immediately a rumor was started that I had run away, and when I returned I found that all kinds of stories had been set afloat about me. My reappearance, however, set them all at rest, and, as my husband and myself zealously attended to our own business and let that of other people alone, we were permitted to dwell together in peace.

When I got back from New Orleans, we purchased a snug little stone house, and I devoted myself to advancing my husband’s interests as much as possible and to making our home comfortable and attractive.

My husband, for a time, prospered in his mining operations, and, although there were some envious people who spoke ill of him and of me, we succeeded in gaining the esteem of such of our neighbors as were worth knowing and did not disturb ourselves about what might be said of us by those who were disposed to speak evil.

The city of Austin, which is near the center of Nevada, at this time (1868) contained from fifteen hundred to two thousand inhabitants, most of whom were in some way connected with the mines. There were about a dozen stores, one hotel, four or five lodging-houses, half a dozen restaurants, more drinking- saloons than I ever undertook to count, Catholic and Methodist churches, a Masonic hall, and five quartz crushing-mills — only one, however, of which was in operation.

There was any amount of speculation in mines and mining stocks and any amount of the worst kind of swindling going on all the time. Some of the mines were good ones but others were mere pretences and were worth nothing at all. Many of these bogus mines were sold to eastern capitalists by experts, who made a specialty of working frauds of this description.

It was while residing in Austin that I first heard the expression “salting” applied to mines and learned what it meant. Salting, however, was only one of a number of frauds that were practiced every day.

It grieved me greatly that my husband should be compelled to associate and to transact business with such scoundrels as the men about him. His partner, especially, was as worthless a scamp as there was in the district, and, as I felt certain that he would in time be held responsible for some of the doings of this fellow, I persuaded him to give up mining and to seek a home in some locality that offered greater advantages for living, as decent people ought to live, than Austin did.

My husband accordingly sold out his interest in the mines, and we removed to California, where we purchased a lovely place in the Sacramento Valley. This was just such a home as I had always sighed for, and I was perfectly happy in the idea of settling down and living a quiet, contented life for the rest of my days.

It was not to be, however. My husband had the gold fever, and he found it impossible to be satisfied with what would have satisfied most reasonable people. He was restless and irritable and was all the time anxious to be off to the mines again.

We had not been settled in our new home more than a few months, when, to my infinite regret, he insisted on starting off for the new Eldorado in Utah. He then passed a year prospecting in Bingham Canyon, Camp Floyd, Eureka, and Tintic, and expended all his money without achieving anything. He was then compelled to accept the foremanship of a mine in the Lucine district, and after he had been working in that capacity for some time was promoted to superintendent.

One of the members of the firm by whom my husband was employed was a gentleman, and was honest, as honesty went in that region. The other was a drunkard and a fraud of the worst kind. This man, some time before this, had started a settlement which he named after himself and had built a smelting furnace, all for the purpose of selling some bogus mines. He also perpetrated an infamous swindle on some English capitalists, in relation to a mine in Nevada.

The way the thing was done was this, and it will serve as an illustration of the kind of swindles that were constantly being perpetrated in connection with mines. He sent to Virginia and purchased some rich ore from the Comstock mine for the purpose of salting the mine which he wished to sell. This was a silver-bearing lead, but there was not enough metal in the ore to pay for getting it out. It was necessary, however, in order to effect a sale, to give the impression that it was very rich. The smelter, therefore, run out about three thousand bars, which were supposed to be silver, but which were in reality half lead.

These were hauled to the depot, where the persons who proposed to purchase could see them but after dark they were taken back to the mine, and the next day the teams took them to the depot again. This was done for three successive days, and the Englishmen, seeing such enormous amounts of metal, became greatly excited and offered a million dollars for the mine. The speculator refused, and then they offered a million and a half. This offer he closed with, and a day was set for the inspection of the mine.

The “dumps” were thoroughly salted, and arrangements were made for the assayer and mining expert to be in attendance. The proposed purchasers had their expert with them, a German professor from Freiburg. This professor had a large sack with him in which to put samples of ore, and when going down into the mine he gave it to one of the men to carry for him.

The speculator had on a large blanket-coat with immense pockets in it, which were filled with rich ore. The man with the sack was also provided with a small quantity to be used in case of emergency. Every time the professor put a piece of ore in the sack, so soon as his back was turned the speculator or his man would drop in some of the rich ore. The result was that when the assays were made, they rose from three thousand to fifteen thousand dollars to the ton.

The Englishmen were in ecstasies and insisted on the contract being drawn up immediately. Part of the purchase money was then paid down, and the rest was to be forthcoming in thirty days. When the thirty days expired the purchasers took possession, only to find that they had been duped in a most outrageous manner. By the time the discovery of the fraud was made, however, the swindlers had fled, and the Englishmen had nothing to do but to return to London with empty pockets.

One of them, however, tried his luck again in Little Cottonwood, in the Wellington district, but with no better success.

My husband was at this time superintendent of one of the Wellington mines, and I consequently had ample opportunities to study mining life and to become acquainted with the numerous frauds that were going on. I was also thrown in a good deal with the Mormons and was able to study their characters and manners.

Little Cottonwood Canyon is about twelve miles long, is very narrow and very deep. A stream runs down the middle of it, which is very swift in the months of June and July, when it is full, on account of the melting of immense quantities of snow in the mountains.

Tannersville is a town or settlement named in honor of a woman who kept a hotel or stage-station there. There was a mill and smelter at that place at the time of which I am writing.

Alta City, at the foot of the two canyons — Big and Little Cottonwood — is a town of rather more importance. When I was there it had three stores, a hotel, a couple of lodging-houses, a livery stable, and a large number of drinking-saloons. The dwelling-houses were mostly very small and were entirely invisible in winter, being covered by the snow. The snow usually commences to fall about the middle of September, but I have seen it in August. During the winter many parts of the canyon are impassable, except by the use of sledges and snow-shoes, and there is constant danger from avalanches, which carry everything before them.

The Wellington mine lost its foreman and a miner through an avalanche while I was there, and many men have lost their lives in this canyon, their bodies remaining buried beneath the snow until spring.

I doubt whether many of the mines in this district will ever be successfully worked. The Emma is one of the best, and I think could be made to pay if judiciously operated. This mine is situated in the side of the mountain and is almost perpendicular. On looking at it, it is impossible not to wonder how the owners ever reached it or are able to work it. I believe that there is an immense lead of silver here which will yet be unearthed.

This part of the country offers a rich field for the botanist and naturalist. The flowers are in the greatest profusion and are of every imaginable hue. They grow from the mouth of the canyon to some of the highest points on the mountains.

The wild cherry, the whortleberry, the serviceberry, the thimbleberry, and the dewberry are very abundant.

On the very summits of this immense range will be found clear blue lakes, filled with spotted trout. How they have managed to get there is more than I can tell.

When the highest points are reached, if one looks aloft the broadwinged eagle may be seen wheeling in the air, while upon the ground are the beautiful mountain squirrels, busily engaged in gathering their winter stores. I have often sat for hours and watched these nimble little animals. There are as many as six different varieties of squirrels, some of which are not larger than mice, while others, the size of the common gray squirrels of the Eastern states, are beautifully striped and vary in color from light gray to dark brown. The greatest enemies of these harmless animals are the eagle and the mink.

Large rats abound in the woods, as do also the brown weasels. These last-named animals are about eighteen inches in length from the nose to the tip of the tail. The head is small, and the eyes, which are very prominent, are of a soft, lustrous black. The weasels are very cunning and are especially destructive to the mice and squirrels. I have seen two old ones kill as many as six or eight mice in a day in my home and carry them, one at a time, across the ravine to their young in the woods. While carrying a mouse, however, should a squirrel appear, the weasel will throw down the mouse, and go after this fresh game, and then come back and get the mouse.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: He deserves killing

Stone reports an astonishing rumor: Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman has killed President Andrew Johnson.

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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Stone reports an astonishing rumor: Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman has killed President Andrew Johnson.

July 2, 1865

Tyler, Texas

We all joined forces and quilted a silk comfort yesterday, and my fingers are sore from it today. Quilting is my pet aversion, though Mamma says I am a most rapid hand. I hurry up to get through a disagreeable job.

Capt. Smith is making himself very pleasant and we see him frequently. There are compensations in our lot as one goes, another comes. We have known him from our first residence, but he has not been a regular attache until recently. The Irvine girls brought their brother, Lt. Irvine, a handsome gentlemanly fellow but inclined to corpulancy much to his distaste, to call. Capt. Smith is shorn of half of his hirsute glories, and, while he looks more civilized, it is not an improvement. …

My Brother should be at Brokenburn today and Uncle Bo I suppose in Vicksburg. We heard from the boys. They will not get back for two weeks.

Andy Johnson, the detested, is reported killed by Sherman. Since his amnesty proclamation, what a mockery on a name — he deserves killing.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: A fever of apprehension

Life amidst a Texas spring goes on, with blossoming flowers, sunshine, and church services. All stare into an unknowable future.

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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Life amidst a Texas spring goes on, with blossoming flowers, sunshine, and church services. All stare into an unknowable future.

May 20, 1865

Tyler, Texas

Still on the rack of uncertainty as regards our future. Flying rumors of the most exciting character keep us in a fever of apprehension. We do not know whether armed resistance is over or whether we are to fight on to the bitter end. If the news of the way in which the people of the Trans-Mississippi Department are ground to the earth is true, it would be better for us to resist as long as there is a man left to load a gun. Gloom and despondency cloud every face. … Better years of battle than a peace like this is the cry of all we see. Our latest news is that people in this department have an armistice of thirty days to resign themselves to the inevitable. I suppose it is a breathing space to collect our scattered energies and brace ourselves for the stern trials of the future.

And Nature smiles down on all this wretchedness. The loveliest of May mornings and the air is sweet with the perfume of the star jasmine. Our summer house in the yard is covered with it, and it is now white with blooms. The finest variety we ever saw. This soil suits it better than ours. That arbour is a favorite retreat, and we spend many gay, dolorous, and charming hours in its shade.

Sister is off to school, Sunday school, and we are all ready for church. It behooves us to ask aid from Our Maker when all else is failing us. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: We fear it cannot last

Stone savors her new house in Tyler and fears the day when she must leave it behind to return to a ravaged Brokenburn plantation in Louisiana.

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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Stone savors her new house in Tyler and fears the day when she must leave it behind to return to a ravaged Brokenburn plantation in Louisiana.

Despite Stone’s insistence that she and Holmes are only friends, she spends virtually every moment with him, sews for him, and now even fights off rumors of their engagement.

May 9, 1865

Tyler, Texas

How comfortably our move was accomplished. Mamma gave general orders to the Corps d’Afrique [the Stones’ black servants] to move all our “duds” to the new house. We have only the bare necessaries except servants. They are plentiful. Then Mamma seated herself to the perusal of Burns, Kate went to sewing, I went off calling, returned to dinner, and then went out again.

Late in the afternoon … I went up to meet Mamma and welcome her to her new home, which we have named “The Rest” and which we intend to enjoy to the fullest until stern Fate again casts us out on the world.

Lt. Holmes came to tea, though we had explained to him we would not be ready for visitors before Tuesday. He said he forgot our warning. He has a settled habit of coming every day. I suppose he could not break himself of it. Lt. Holmes and I went over to Mrs. Savage’s to tea the other day taking Sister with us. … Spent rather an uncomfortable evening. Mrs. Savage and Mrs. Carson amuse themselves spreading the news of my engagement to Lt. Holmes. But I cannot really blame them. When two people are as much together, such reports will arise, and it does no good to tell them, as we do, that there is no engagement. Have not an idea of marrying him or anyone else. We are friends, nothing more. Such reports die out after a time and meanwhile we see much pleasure and amusement together. …

We find ourselves so comfortable that we are frightened. We fear it cannot last — a pretty six-room house, nicely improved grounds and surroundings with the flowers in full bloom. We are thankful to be at rest once more. I am busy embroidering a black velvet tobacco bag with scarlet fuchsias for Lt. Holmes.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Its spring decoration

As a Texas spring blooms all around her, Stone frets about rumors of the death of a famous Confederate general.

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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

As a Texas spring blooms all around her, Stone frets about rumors of the death of a famous Confederate general.

March 30, 1865

Tyler, Texas

The little town is looking lovely now in its spring decoration of peach and apple blossoms and the circling fields of soft green wheat and rye. It seems to be peeping through a bouquet of pink and white blooms.

A rumor that Gen. [P.G.T.] Beauregard has been killed in a great fight in Carolina. …

We have been renovating our last summer’s clothes. We have not a single new thing to make up. If Mr. Smith does not soon send that cotton which must go on to San Antonio, I do not know what we will all do for clothes. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Peace blessed peace

Stone senses the end of the war is coming soon. She predicts the war will end no sooner than October 1865.

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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Stone senses the end of the war is coming soon. She predicts the war will end no sooner than October 1865.

Feb. 13, 1865

Tyler, Texas

Great Peace rumors are afloat, and Gen. Lee has certainly given Grant’s army a good drubbing. If he could only have annihilated them, we could sing. … God grant our dear boys may be unhurt. Dame Rumor is furloughing every fifth man in the Virginia Army who lives on this side of the Mississippi, and there is so much good news that the multitudes are jubilant. The more hopeful predict peace by July, but I think it will not come before October is painting the woods in autumn hues. What a lovely season it will be to journey home with peace blessed peace quieting all the land and nothing to molest or make us afraid. How joyfully will we take up our line of march for dear old Louisiana. What a merry cavalcade we shall be.

How the shriek of that steam whistle startled me, transporting me for the minute to the bank of the far rolling Mississippi.

Mrs. Bruce must think we are agents for renting houses. A letter from her introducing Capt. Pritchard, and one from him asking us as a great favor to rent a house for his family, who are on the way and will be here in about two weeks. Will wait until Mamma gets back, and then we will go on another house-hunting expedition. It is rather a trying job as the owners of the houses wish us to be responsible for the rent, and in this case we do not even know the people. These wily Texans want to bind one with all kinds of written documents, unintelligible but terrible in my eyes. I would not sign one for anything. Mamma attends to all that. …

Yesterday Little Sister fell off the gallery striking her head on a rock pile, making several deep gashes, and today it pains too much for her to attend school, though she took her music lesson. Little Sally has improved so much. She is a pretty curly-headed little thing with golden hair and blue eyes and is a great pet with us all. But she can never take Beverly’s place in our hearts — the perfect little child only lent to earth to show mortals how fair are the angels in Heaven. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Kindly bestow them

Stone begins the new year with a diary entry — one of her longest — filled with details, cautious hope, and determination to hold out for ultimate Confederate victory.

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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Stone begins the new year with a diary entry — one of her longest — filled with details, cautious hope, and determination to hold out for ultimate Confederate victory.

Jan. 29, 1865

Tyler, Texas

Uncle Johnny and Kate have just gone to their room after a lengthy discussion of the comparative merits of modern poets and novelists. Johnny has kissed me goodnight, Sister is wandering in dreamland, I am alone with a cheerful fire and a wakeful spirit, and so I may as well resume my neglected diary.

Mamma, with Sarah as her maid, started on Wednesday for the prairie to be absent two weeks, and I am left to administer affairs during her absence. The office of housekeeper is not entirely a sinecure now that there are so many to be provided for our family, Uncle John’s, and Mr. Gary’s. We tease Mamma and Mrs. Savage by telling them they are keeping boarding houses, a fact they indignantly deny. But it looks that way to an outsider. We hoped to get Mr. Smith’s house and live to ourselves, but he now declines to rent. But for the hall, we are as much crowded here as at the Ranch, which we had to give up to the owner as he wished to move back. This is a pretty-looking place if the house was painted but new and unfinished, a large yard with the native trees left. Mr. and Mrs. Gary, from whom Mamma rented it, are quite nice people. They have one little girl and they give very little trouble. We rarely see them except at meals, which is a relief, for we did so dread her living in our room. Even Kate leaves us to ourselves sometimes, and so we find it much easier to live together. Though both Uncle Johnny and Kate utterly ignore Johnny’s existence, it is wonderful that they will behave so.

Jimmy and Joe Carson have rejoined their command. It is Jimmy’s first trial as a soldier. I am trying to finish a pair of the prettiest riding gloves to send him by Jimmy Stone’s boy, who will get off Wednesday. I am sending Jimmy Stone a famous pair. Dr. Weir would feel himself awfully slighted and retire in disgust could he peep behind the scenes and see what becomes of the precious gauntlets he forced on my acceptance. He flattered himself I would knit a pair of gloves to them and kindly bestow them on him. But oh no, they go with the best I can make to Jimmy. I have knitted so many gloves, and Mamma knits socks in all her spare time. I wish I had kept account of the numbers of pairs. We froth up old black or blue silk, mix it with wool, and have it spun into a pretty silky thread that makes nice-looking gloves or stockings. …

So slowly news comes in that we have heard nothing since Sherman’s occupation of Savannah more than a month ago and Gen. Hood‘s retreat across the Tennessee River. … Hood is relieved from command and Gen. Johnston reinstated, a rumor that gives general satisfaction. The very air is rife with rumors but nothing reliable. The favorite is that the Confederacy will certainly be recognized by all foreign powers immediately after the fourth of March, and we may look for a speedy peace with much more to the same. But we have been exalted and depressed by these rumors too often to let them weigh with us now. Another topic of general interest is the subject of gradual emancipation said to be under discussion in the lower house [of the Confederate Congress]. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Credulous mortals

Stone and her brother still endured the hatred of Texas boys. She also despaired over the lack of news that reliably reported any Confederate victory.

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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Stone and her brother still endured the hatred of Texas boys. She also despaired over the lack of news that reliably reported any Confederate victory.

Nov. 1, 1863

Tyler, Texas

We are just from church. Jimmy, Johnny, and I did not go con amore. There are more pleasant things than toiling a mile through heavy sand, up hill and down dale too dark to see the road beneath you or the sky above, sitting for an hour listening to an indifferent sermon, and being gazed at by a battery of hostile eyes. Jimmy was determined to go, and I would go too, though he did not want me. Last night he and Johnny went alone, and during the services someone cut his bridle all to pieces and stole his martingale and blanket. A crowd of boys followed them after church, talking at them all the time. They know now the boys are armed and so did not attack them. The rowdies followed us tonight, and I saw them for the first time. They are real nice-looking lads. What a pity they are not gentlemen. Jimmy Carson is deeply mortified that he is compelled to desert a friend in need.

Miss Sally Grissman called to see us a short time ago. She is quite pretty, a Creole, piquante and petite. They are from Assumption Parish and have been here nearly a year. Mrs. Prentice from Joe’s Bayou and Mrs. Hull from St. Louis called yesterday. Mrs. Hull is a delightful little lady with the prettiest face and sweetest manner. Her husband is a colonel. He has just returned from Missouri. He went in to raise a regiment, of course in disguise, and brought out four hundred men, a most dangerous undertaking since it meant the death of a spy if he had been captured. Mr. and Mrs. Prentice have a house near town and Mrs. Hull boards with them. Mrs. Prentice begged me to come and stay some with her. Perhaps I shall.

Spent a day with Mrs. Levy lately. She is from New Orleans and has a large family of little children. Her husband and oldest son are in the Virginia Army. She is a good talker, a woman of the world, and a Jewess, but I think does not practice her religion. She was a Miss Moise from Charleston. …

The exhilarating news of the capture of [Union Maj. Gen. William] Rosecrans and his army proves to have been a canard. He has been heavily reinforced and is again in the field. What credulous mortals we be, believing all the good reports and distrusting all the bad until the truth is forced upon us. …

Kate Stone’s Civil War: It makes us shiver

In the absence of hard facts or updated news from the battlefields, rumors of all kinds were rampant.

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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

In the absence of hard facts or updated news from the battlefields, rumors of all kinds were rampant.

Sept. 1, 1863

“Elysian Fields,” Lamar County, Texas

A letter from Jimmy at Jefferson [Texas] on the thirty-first of July, just as he was leaving for Navasota. It is almost time for his return, and Mamma is anxious for him to get back. She wants the wagons to move the Negroes before they hear that the Yankees are coming in from the North, as it is rumored, and before they have a chance to make a break for the Federal lines again.

There are quite a number of Yankee prisoners at Tyler, captured while in command of black troops. It does seem like they ought to be hanged, and they are so impudent too. The detestable creatures!

There is a rumor that Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, and Tennessee have applied for admission into the Union again. Of course, we know it is a base fabrication, but many of the natives believe it firmly. They will believe anything against Louisiana. They seem to hate that state, and we would not give one Louisiana parish for half of Texas.

Our pet rumor is again in the air that France, Spain, and England have recognized the Confederacy. Oh, that it were true. …

We hear that Mrs. White, from whom we rented books and also bought one or two, has leprosy. It makes us shiver to think of it, and our handling her things and Patsy nursing her. We can only hope it is another big story, as it is too late to take precautions.

Sept. 11

Jimmy is back after an absence of seven weeks, and now as soon as we can collect up our scattered goods and chattels we will be off to fresh fields and pastures new. …

The Federals made only a short stay at Monroe, but were busy at the work of destruction. Would like to know how our friends have fared.

Our high hopes of recognition by the European powers are again dashed to the ground. If they just would not start such rumors, raising expectations only to be disappointed.

We paid a three-day visit to Mrs. Slaughter up in the famous Union neighborhood, Honey Grove, where they say there is only one Confederate family. There, everyone you talk to says of course we will be conquered. In Louisiana one rarely heard such an idea expressed.

We attended a large Baptist meeting in the vicinity several times. The interest and excitement were intense. There were often fifty mourners crowded around the altar and the church crowded to suffocation. Never saw so many men in church before, and we have not seen so many men at one time since the war commenced, unless they were soldiers in uniform. The scene at night was most striking: the anxious, excited faces, crowding and surging around the altar; the exalted, earnest mien of the minister; the groans and shrieks and wild prayers of the mourners, mingling with the shouts and hallelujahs of the newly professed; while high over all rises the thunder of a triumphant hymn, borne on many voices. In the background gleam the eager, curious faces of the lookers-on, row on row.

A scene to thrill and interest anyone, but I must take my religion more quietly. It was a country-looking congregation with a sprinkling of nice people. Short dresses, large hoops, and top-knotted sun-bonnets, the style.

Kate Stone’s Civil War: Despondent and chicken-hearted

Stone is wary of “chicken-hearted” rumors of a defeat at Vicksburg. She also receives her first “Texas beau.”

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From 2012 to 2015, Stillness of Heart will share interesting excerpts from the extraordinary diary of Kate Stone, who chronicled her Louisiana family’s turbulent experiences throughout the Civil War era.

Learn more about Stone’s amazing life in 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865 and beyond. Click on each year to read more about her experiences. You can read the entire journal online here.

(Photo edited by Bob Rowen)

Stone is wary of “chicken-hearted” rumors of a defeat at Vicksburg. She also receives her first “Texas beau.”

July 26, 1863

Lamar County, Texas

I had my first call from a Texas beau yesterday evening.

A smooth-faced, rosy-cheeked, young dandy, dressed in the height of Paris fashion and dotingly proud of his jet-black imperial. Several of the elite of Blue’s Prairie have called on us. I wonder, shall we look as old-fashioned as they after a year or two of prairie life? Even Blue’s Prairie is looking lovely now. It is covered with a flower, looking like feathery, white plumes laced and tangled together with a yellow love vine and purple maypop vines.

There are some most disquieting rumors believed by the despondent and chicken-hearted, but we do not give them credence. It is said both Vicksburg and Port Hudson have been taken, with a number of prisoners. We have heard it affirmed and contradicted half a dozen times. We will wait to see Gen. Johnston’s official report of such disaster before believing it.

Unionism is rampant about here. There was a company of Jayhawkers for the Federal side raised in this county. Half of the militia have been drafted for six months, and oh, the moaning and bewailing of the feminine population. But I cannot be sorry for the militia. My sympathies are all with the soldiers in the field.